Vanakkam! I am very happy to join you all this evening to celebrate Avvaiyar, the great Tamil female poet, who lived in the medieval period. Avvaiyar enjoyed writing for children and her works of Aathichoodi and Konraivendthan are simple poems generally read and enjoyed by children and adults. Selected Avvaiyar’s poems are included in the primary school Tamil curriculum, in which her literary works are targeted at children to inculcate good values in them. They are the very first Tamil literature that children read and enjoy. All her works are didactic in character and they explain the basic wisdom that governs daily life.

It is commendable that the Tamil Language and Cultural Society has taken the initiative to highlight Avvaiyar’s literary contributions by celebrating the Avvaiyar Festival for the first time, and it will be celebrated annually hereafter. This Festival has been organised by women to showcase their administrative and leadership skills and to celebrate a prominent female poet who believed in ethical living.

On 20 July, the Society held competitions, based on Avvaiyar’s teachings, for primary school students. About 800 students from 70 primary schools participated in the competitions with much enthusiasm. Principals from secondary schools extended their support and cooperation, as well as Tamil teachers who volunteered their services as judges for the competitions. This helps to forge ties and bonding among teachers and community leaders. The Tamil Language and Cultural Society has also been working with schools to create a greater awareness of Avvaiyar’s teachings among students as well as enabling them to hone their skills in spoken Tamil.

The Tamil Language and Cultural Society has made valuable contributions to the student community and the community at large by holding many literary programmes such as Tirukkural Festival, Bharathiyar Festival, and, medical programmes for the needy. I also understand that the Society is making an effort to promote the Tamil Toastmaster clubs, which is a vehicle to develop and promote the Tamil Language and leadership skills. I am pleased to note that they are increasing the clubs from 8 to 12 by June next year.

I wish the Society all the best in its endeavours and congratulate all prize winners of the Avvaiyar competitions.

Thank you.